The Claims of Future Persons
- 242 Downloads
This paper defends a deontological egalitarianism in the ethics of future generations. Concerns about the non-identity problem have been taken as a reason to develop sufficientarian approaches to intergenerational justice. This paper argues for a solution to the non-identity problem that refers to the claims of future persons. In principle, the content of these claims could be spelled out with a sufficientarian and an egalitarian approach. What speaks against sufficientarianism, however, is that the sufficiency threshold, unless it is set very low, would have to be set arbitrarily. The hidden justification behind a higher threshold would be egalitarian. It draws its plausibility from the justified belief that future persons have a claim on us that we leave equally valuable shares of natural resources to them.
I am grateful to Maike Albertzart, Roland Hesse, Johanna Privitera, Lukas Tank, Gabriel Wollner and the two reviewers for their critical remarks and helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
- Barry, B. (1977). Justice between generations. In P. M. S. Hacker & J. Raz (Eds.), Law, morality, and society. Essays in honour of H.L.A Hart (pp. 268–284). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Barry, B. (1983). Intergenerational justice in energy policy. In D. Maclean & P. Brown (Eds.), Energy and the future (pp. 15–30). Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Boonin, D. (2008). How to solve the non-identity problem. Public Affairs Quarterly, 22(2), 127–157.Google Scholar
- Lippert-Rasmussen, K. (2007). The insignificance of the distinction between telic and deontic egalitarianism. In N. Holtug & K. Lippert-Rasmussen (Eds.), Egalitarianism: New essays on the nature and value of equality (pp. 101–124). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Nagel, T. (1970). The possibility of altruism. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Page, T. (1983). Intergenerational justice as opportunity. In D. Maclean & P. G. Brown (Eds.), Energy and the future (pp. 38–58). Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and persons. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. (2000). Equality or priority? In Clayton, M., Willams, A. (Eds.), The ideal of equality (pp. 81–125). London/New York: Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. (2004). Postscript. In Ryberg, J., Tännsjö, T. (Eds.), The repugnant conclusion. Essays on population ethics (p. 257). Dorndrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.)Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. (2010). Energy policy and the further future. The identity problem. In S. M. Gardiner et al. (Eds.), Climate ethics. Essential readings (pp. 112–121). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1999). A theory of justice (Revised ed.). Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.Google Scholar